There are no wheelchair ramps or braille signs on the Internet. In fact, a lot of web accessibility tools are hidden in the backend of websites. But even if you don’t know much about online accessibility, Google cares a lot and so do your online visitors.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is about more than just catering to the search engines. You need to design a website that’s optimized for all your visitors—and Google will reward your efforts, even though “accessibility” on its own is not a ranking factor.
We’re answering a popular question in this article: Does Google really care about accessibility?
Here’s a framework for understanding how Google interprets accessibility and how to create an accessible law website that works for disabled users and ranks highly.
An accessible website can help you rank higher on Google
Google uses bots to scan and monitor websites. In this process, the search giant checks for evidence that your website is useful, accurate, and secure—in other words, that you are providing a great user experience for all of your online visitors.
Many of the best practices for accessible web design are also valuable for Google’s bots.
The WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) are a set of design principles and technical standards that anyone can utilize to ensure that their content is accessible to a variety of users. People with visual, auditory, and cognitive disabilities may be accessing your website with assistive technologies like screen readers or inputs other than a keyboard and mouse.
While Google does not currently look purely at whether a page is fully accessible, conforming to the WCAG’s recommendations for code and content can improve your site’s value according to the algorithm. That’s because Google wants websites to deliver a good user experience for all, including those using assistive technologies.
In the future, Google may decide that web accessibility should play a bigger role in assigning search ranking. Accessible design leads to higher retention, which is good for you, good for your clients, and good for Google!
We prioritize accessibility in every legal website we design for these reasons—and we encourage all attorneys and legal marketing agencies to do the same.
>> Find out if your website is accessible with our free accessibility assessment.
SEO means optimizing for all visitors
We’ve talked a lot about optimization for search engines. We’re an SEO agency, after all!
But rankings aside, you should always do what’s best for your visitors. Optimize for users first and foremost.
Listen, you’re not alone if you’re feeling confused about what Google really wants from your website. Search engine optimization is a massive undertaking, and accessibility adds another layer to the complexity.
One out of every four adults in the U.S. is living with a disability. That’s a huge share of the market. If your website is not accessible, millions of people could be left out of the pool of potential clients looking for legal representation.
The good news is that accessible design is easier than ever to implement—and accessible design serves everyone. Captions, alt text, scannable content, and clear navigation improve the user experience for disabled and non-disabled users alike.
Don’t fall into the trap that an accessible website means expensive and unnecessary features. Web accessibility just means good, clear, thoughtful design that is easy for both your visitors and Google to understand.
Beyond the ethical reasons for accessible web design, the Department of Justice has also declared the importance of online accessibility with regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Start now, because accessibility is easier from the ground up
We are pleased to see that accessibility is becoming a bigger priority — but accessibility overlay tools applied to a website after it’s already been built? Not good enough.
It is a lot easier to build an accessible website from the ground up.
From laying out the overall site map to nitty gritty technical features, accessibility is a core design principle. If you can, build your legal website from scratch with accessibility in mind rather than trying to incorporate it later on.
Even if accessibility is not yet a ranking factor, we promise that your budget and your business will thank you for prioritizing web accessibility from day one. If you’re facing down a website rework, don’t lose hope. Accessibility remediation is possible—but it’s also costly.
Review and next steps
“Accessibility” as a wider concept is not currently a factor in ranking on Google, but search engines highly value accessible websites because they are easier to crawl and they provide a better user experience to more people.
Web accessibility means designing your website to accommodate a variety of online users. The tools and techniques in the WCAG help ensure that disabled people (more than 25% of Americans) can use your law firm’s website. Non-disabled people benefit from web accessibility principles, too.
- You need a website for your new firm
- You’re concerned about ADA compliance with your existing site
- You’ve gotten complaints about buggy overlay tools
- You want to improve your SEO with accessibility remediation
Please reach out if we can help!